Dealing with Paper Clutter


Kitchen counters are notorious for collecting paper. If one piece lands there, it is only a matter of time before it turns into a giant pile of incoming mail, sales flyers, receipts, school handouts, kid art, etc. Paper attracts paper. 

Do you know what I'm talking about? Here's how to quickly tackle that stack and set yourself up for future success by reducing the amount of incoming paper:

The Speed Sort

I love starting off with some instant gratification and an easy win. For me, this means doing a quick sort and putting everything into one of three categories:

  • Keep

  • Shred

  • Recycle

Again, my goal is speed. If I find myself debating whether I should keep something or not, it goes into the Keep pile. As soon as the sorting is done - put the recycle pile in your recycling bin and shred the things that need to be shredded.

A note on shredding: We have a shredder, but I rarely use it. Instead I tear the paper into small enough pieces and toss it in with our family's food scraps in our city food & yard waste bin (Trust me - NO ONE is going to try and sort through that to find our personal info. Nope. Not gonna happen.) 

Sorting the Keepers

Odds are, your pile is now much smaller. Next, I group things into categories and deal with them accordingly. Here are some common ones in our home:

  • Bills - Pay them!

  • Coupons - Will I really use it before the expiration? If so, put it in my wallet and make a note on my shopping list so I don't forget.

  • Appointment Reminders - Double check that they are on the calendar and then recycle.

  • School Paperwork - Scan for important dates and add them to the calendar. Add any necessary supplies to my shopping list. Fill out any forms and put them in our kids' backpacks.

  • School Artwork & Papers - Is it a special piece that took work & attention or has important/encouraging notes? Display and/or keep. Is it a scribbled on handout? Recycle!

  • Tax Receipts, Insurance Paperwork, Financial Statements - Review and File or Shred.

  • Personal Cards & Letters - Read and then keep or recycle.

  • Instruction Manuals - Almost all are readily available online. Recycle!

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What is even better than getting all your paper clutter sorted and cleared away? Having less of it to begin with!

Here are some ways to reduce the paper invasion: